More Chavista Ineptitude

  We’ll go Down The Rabbit Hole in a few but first…PAHO (Pan American Health Organization) reports that Colombia and Venezuela authorities have agreed to a joint effort to ensure that Venezuela is certified free of foot and mouth disease. Venezuela will be the last country in the region to receive this recognition.

 Remember, this is following the recent article on Venezuela having the largest buffalo herd in Latin America, is interested in exporting buffalo meat and associated products, but is unable to do so since it lacks the “free of foot and mouth disease” certification.

 This is just another example of the ineptness of the Maduro regime and 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism. They seem to be unable to do anything for themselves. All the other countries in the region managed to get the certification without a “joint effort”.

 It’s the same situation with Venezuela’s oil industry (and just about everything else in Venezuela). The Chavistas destroyed PDVSA (Venezuela government-owned oil company), once the envy of the entire oil producing world (until the Chavistas got their hands on it), and now are trying to get the Iranians to rebuild it for them.

 It’s worth noting that they didn’t turn to China, previously their staunchest ally, as it appears the Chinese grew weary of the Chavistas screwing them (or screwing up) on basically every deal they made. Oh, and China finally had to cut off credit to the Maduro regime as well.

 One has to wonder how long it will take the Iranians to catch on to the fact that everything the Chavistas get involved in becomes another case of Chavista ineptitude? Meanwhile, the Colombians can help them get their certificate.

 Then we have Reuters telling us that, unable to process Venezuela’s heavy crude oil, Cuba is turning to Russia and Mexico to ease it’s acute shortage of diesel and gasoline. We’ve said before…”all oil is not created equal”. It’s one of the reasons Venezuela struggles to find customers for it’s crude , most of which is extra-heavy (aside from the sanctions).

 Venezuela has been Cuba’s main political ally and supplier of petroleum products for two decades (Hugo Chavez and the Chavistas took over the task of supporting and enabling the Castro regime after the” lost decade” when the USSR fell and could no longer support and enable them…what is it with these guys?) but Venezuela’s inability to produce enough fuel has caused exports to Cuba to drop from 80,000 bpd (barrels per day) to 55,000 bpd. The good news for Cuba is they don’t have to pay for anything from Venezuela (The bad news is that before Maduro took power Cuba received 100,000 bpd).

 Volumes from Mexico are increasing and Cuba has imported at least 5 cargoes from Russia since November as well as shipments from Caribbean terminals and Europe. It remains to be seen when Venezuela, which is undergoing a stoppage of exports due to the PDVSA corruption probe (purge?), will ramp up exports to Cuba.

 Then we have Nord News telling us that the majority of asylum applications in Norway this year are from Venezuela, surpassing Ukraine. Hey, isn’t there a war going on in Ukraine? What’s going on in Venezuela? Just saying….

 Then there’s this from France 24…Talk about getting hit from al sides…Venezuela’s coral reefs are now threatened by Unomia, a type of pulse coral that ultimately destroys entire ecosystems, according to the director of Project Unomia. He said that, for now, the magnitude of the problem is such that the invader’s elimination is impossible.

 So now you have PDVSA’s oil leaks and oil spills threatening beaches, mangrove swamps, etc. , Maduro’s “Mining Arc” threatening the Amazon region and destroying an entire way of life for the indigenous peoples in the impacted areas (mercury poisoning will do that), and I guess we can soon expect the coral reefs to become a fond memory. It’s getting kinda’ “Biblical” for the Venezuelans.

 Now, let’s head Down The Rabbit Hole…

 Chapter 9 continued…

 …When the oil business was doing well gold, and in turn the gold mining region, was mostly an afterthought, consisting of relatively small mining concerns and atesanal mining by the indigenous Pemon people. Area towns were quaint tourist spots and indeed many Pemon made a living servicing tourism. As the economy, and society as well, collapsed tourists stopped coming to the area for a number of reasons and more and more people, Pemon included, turned to mining.

 As you might expect, with the rise in mining activity the criminal activity increased. Extortion occurred in every aspect of life in the region from the supply chain, the mining activity, the transport routes, and the market. Everywhere along the line everybody paid…and got paid. Local gangs, mostly run by Pranes (a criminal organization stemming from the prison system), syndicates (organized crime), Colombian guerillas (both the ELN and demobilized FARC groups), all extracted a price. Local police and military were (and are) involved. It was (and is) the “Wild, Wild West”.

 A chaotic scenario like this was a perfect opportunity for Chavismo to get their hands on some badly needed revenue as well as to exert their control over another segment of the population ie; the country. In February, 2016 Maduro announced the launching of a new project, “The Mining Arc”. The initiative was supposed to drive development of the vast resources of gold, coltan, diamonds, uranium, etc. in a responsible and eco-friendly manner for the 112,000 square kilometer area. And, of course, the military was put in charge of the project.

 At the time of the announcement there were supposedly 150 companies from 35 countries interested in projects in “The Mining Arc”. This “interest” has produced nothing substantial to date. The primary reason for the lack of interest is the required partnering with CAMIMPEG, the military-controlled mining, oil, and gas company or Minerven, the government-run mining company. Another contributing factor to the lack of international investment in the project and to the violence in the region is the military itself.

 You might think that giving the military control over the region would stabilize things and stem the lawlessness. The effect has been exactly the opposite. The pecking order goes something like this: The military is the top dog with the syndicates ranking second. Then you have ELN, FARC dissidents, and the Prane-related gangs still exerting strong influence. All these groups cooperate with, or compete with, the military in illegal enterprises. Violent clashes are the order of the day and include group to individual, group to group, and group to military confrontations. There are also narco- trafficking routes in the region which adds to the instability and lawless nature of the area. It also doesn’t help that the Venezuelan government doesn’t cooperate with it’s neighbors in anti drug, anti-crime, anti-insurgent, or anti-terrorism activities. They prefer to allow these activities and receive compensation for their complicity. The military even arms some of these groups in return for both profit in gold and control. A good example of this was in 2005 when a National Guard colonel was jailed for capturing a FARC leader, and ELN is allowed to operate openly in 13 of 24 Venezuelan states.

 More tomorrow….

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